Thursday, June 28, 2007

Who pays the Cost of Freedom?

Welcome to the official blog for Cost of Freedom, due out this summer on Howling Dog Press.

Freedom, they tell us, isn't free. The cost of freedom isn't cheap; it's shock and awe aggression, it's proud of it's country right or wrong, it's unquestioning -- it follows orders, from the president, to the governor, to the local cop, while giving orders to the rest of the world -- dominating, hard-bitten, hard-nosed, decisive . . . it's blood, sweat, tears, guts, and conquest, it's occupation of foreign soil for foreign oil, it's shrewd, brutal, unrelenting, merciless, and oh, so gloriously patriotic. Troop surges and civilian casualties are the cost of freedom; violence, bloodshed, death, destruction, genocide, torture, incarceration of evildoers . . .

That's the cost of freedom, they spin, as they count their profits and leave the farmers, the grocers, the postmen, the teachers, the factory workers, the students, the carpenters, the poets, the bloggers, the mothers of soldiers, and all the nameless others to mourn and bury the dead. Greater profits for oil companies and rising stock values are their determining factors for whether the nation is free or enslaved, mixing toxic metaphors, pouring forth the sludge of nationalistic fervor through their corporate media broadcasts. America is the land of business, of the trickle-down theory of economics: when corporations are healthy, America is healthy; when corporations are safe to conduct business freely, America is safe and free; when corporations find obstacles for growth, the cost of freedom is to knock down the obstructions. It's a balanced equation for a balanced budget . . . just give it some time, one day it will trickle down to you. But for now, the cost of freedom is your duty, your son's duty, your daughter's to make the world safe for freedom, and you may have to freely give their lives, and your own, in exchange.

Challenging this suspiciously heinous conception of patriotism, novelist Mike Palecek started asking many hard questions, but he wasn't getting straight answers, so he began to contact peace groups and to gather stories from activists across the United States who had a different perspective on what the cost of freedom might be. He found accomplices to his quest in Whitney Trettien, an honors student, and Michael Annis, an independent publishers, who became his co-editors. The three of them working together assembled more contributions from many others who knew that America was losing her Constitution to liars, murderers, and thieves. Through 2005 to 2007, they gleaned letters, articles, sentencing statements, songs, poems, and images into Cost of Freedom. From a grandmother's stay at Camp Casey to a young man's counter-inauguration protest (and subsequent run-in with the FBI), the Cost of Freedom, an anthology of grassroots activism, documents the everyday revolutionary acts of over 75 courageous men and women. Cost of Freedom is the definitive cross-section of the national grassroots resistance, and holds the mirror to the faces of those who would challenge tyranny and oppression. Who is Cost of Freedom? Grassroots activists -- common citizens with an uncommon resolve and mission in life for peace, truth, and liberty, oftentimes at their personal expense: emotional, psychological, economic -- sometimes losing their personal liberty to protect the Constitution of what was intended to be the land of the free . . .

Judy Plank in Iowa, Jeff Nall in Florida, David Ray in Tucson, Leigh Herrick in Minnesota, Maria Allwine in Maryland, Mary Walworth and Ray Korona in New Jersey, Jason Miller in Kansas City, Thomas Sipos in L.A., Dan Benbow in San Francisco, Liam Wescott in Alaska, and Sandra Rushing in Virginia protect our freedoms. They, along with thousands of others, are behind enemy lines -- lines drawn to divide and conquer a nation by an unelected corporate government sponsoring torture, infanticide, extraordinary rendition, and other war crimes.

They are the real patriots -- they don't do the unthinkable to follow orders; theirs is to act according to one's conscience despite persecution. They hold signs in freezing weather on a freeway in Bangor, Maine; they write intrepid letters to the editor in South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Clothed in black, they vigil silently in Syracuse and Wyoming and pray aloud for peace in Bagdad, Arizona. They march defiantly in Des Moines, Seattle, Batavia, Denver, Omaha, Portland, DC, calling the official White House hyper-rationale nothing more than the corporate propaganda of the aristocratic kleptocracy. They assemble at the 49 gates of hell in Northern Colorado, demanding the dismantling of Minuteman III missiles, screaming out that the use of WMDs will never be in their names. They scribble signs, paint banners in kitchens and garages from San Diego to Boston. They read anti-war, anti-government poems on community radio stations and NPR. They publish tracts, newsletters, and pamphlets out of garages and shed. Into the wee hours of the night, they feverishly and furiously blog the true story of the wars to enrich corporations. They write their Senators and US Representatives and let them know that if they continue to support an illegal war, and an administration contemptuous of the Constitution, they will lose their jobs. They are clubbed in demonstrations, thrown into jails and military compounds, and hid away in prisons by the State for living out the phrase, "speak truth to power." They raise high the fist of defiance, in their cupped palms they shelter the flame of peace. As the newest war tanked up and drove on, they stood against American hegemony, they threw themselves under the treads of imperialism run amok; they stood their ground, not for glory, but for integrity, for the cause of uniting nations, not dividing them. They exercised their right to free speech, their duty as citizens, as Congress coddles the PATRIOT Act, and Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo became jaws for fascism, vomiting atrocities, while being buried under miles of media fluff.

Cost of Freedom not only records for posterity these light-bearers of the growing American peace movement during this crucial period in world history, but also gives sociological and psychological insight into the motives and spirit of individuals who will challenge the lies of illegal governments -- these individuals, the antitheses of "American Idols," are alternative thinkers who fuel the dream of America to include people of all races and origins. They've been chided, derided, humiliated, condescended to ,and ridiculed for demanding that their taxes be used to build better schools instead of smarter bombs, that money slated for shock and awe go toward universal health care, and feeding the poor. They are the revolution, the courage of world peace, the cost of freedom. They are the dissenting voices of eternal vigilance; they are the fighters for justice and equality; they are the defenders of liberty, the mockers of autocracy posing as democracy, the stewards of the Constitution, the bringers of the light of hope for a future where wards are outlawed, and warmongers are brought to justice. They do it not for money, but to give their children's children's children a life on a habitable planet, without drowning in the bloodshed of their ancestors.

They are the underground, the resistance, the freedom fighters -- out in the streets in Bismarck, Boise, Bemidji, Brooklyn Berthoud, Bellingham, Boston . . . . across the face of America, in all the towns and cities from A to Z.

We honors those who have had the courage to light a candle in the fiercest of winds; for those who have done prison time, received blows from nightsticks, been court-martialed, conscientious objectors to the status quo in the name of truth and liberty.

We rejoice for Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte, Jackie Judson, Lori Price, Marc Ash, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Pete Seeger, Helen Woodson, Jim Fetzer, Webster Tarpley, Fr. Carl Kabat, Lisa Casey, the Berrigans, David Ray Griffin.

There are thousands of names that should follow here, millions. For them, the destiny of America remains precious.

In a culture of mass deception, where citizens are stripped of their ability to engage in meaningful dialogue with their leadership, while being expected to lay down their children's lives for the great lie of war and power, this anthology is published to honor those who have not been offered a political voice in our nation, but who possess an acute awareness of being under duress by political manipulation and obfuscation, and who will not cave-in to the machinery of government corruption that descends into fascist oppression. In the midst of the witching hour, these everyday heroes have the courage, the grasp of responsibility, the sense of urgency, to speak the truth before it is too late, and to use their imaginations, not their guns, to bring about the end of tyrannical rule by myopic zealots.

Common people joining together as a single force to demand the truth, and to demand that our Constitution be respected by that illicit cartel currently posing as our leadership: that is the Cost of Freedom; a sense of unity pervades throughout the organizations and individual activists represented to speak to the fact that unity is the essential element in the overthrow of any tyrannical government. The contributors to this anthology have laid down their differences and joined together in a common objective.

To stand as one against tyranny . . . Cost of Freedom celebrates that.